Ballotpedia Online Interview Responses

Who are you? Tell us about yourself in 300 words or less.

I'm a recent LSU graduate with degrees in Film and English training to become a teacher of English, grades 6-12. I'm a political outsider who has never sought public office before, and I'm ideologically independent with a strong conservative/libertarian lean. I'm running for office because I want our state's economy to become competitive with the rest of the United States and I have lots of concrete proposals for how we can create new, higher-paying jobs, improve our education system and strengthen the economy without government intervention in the marketplace. I'm also socially conservative, strongly opposing abortion and gun control, and believe we need to take on the trial lawyers and other lobbyists, as they are the single greatest threat to Louisiana's prosperity with the hold they have on our politicians at both the state and federal levels. I don't intend to use this office to campaign for higher office and I don't want a career in politics. I want to serve my state for a few years, get my ideas passed, improve our state's economy and end the corruption, and then return to the private sector to pursue a career in education. I also dream of becoming a writer - of novels, television scripts, comics, political commentary, and general reviews of media and pop culture. I plan to one day start a giant blog similar to Hot-Air, but encompassing a wider variety of content than just politics that folks can use as a single, one-stop source of information and opinion on everything from entertainment to news to general life advice and inspiration. I'm also a humanitarian and I believe it's my duty as a middle class person to help others who aren't as well off as me get ahead in life. My philosophy is that it's the government's job to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed in life, and once that's achieved, the government should be as minimalist as possible, merely defending folks' basic, God-given rights.

First Key Message

End the influence of money in politics. End corruption. End lobbying. Get career politicians out of office and give control of the government to regular folks from the private sector. The first proposal to do this is a lifetime ban on former state lawmakers becoming lobbyists.

Second Key Message

Abolish sales and income taxes, as these kill our economy by penalizing activities that promote economic growth. Taxes should be based on the resources an individual borrows from society, like land, water, liability protection, and other natural resources that would be otherwise owned by the public. The middle class and working class should pay the least in taxes and the big corporations should pay the highest tax burden. Folks should get to keep 100% of their paychecks and pay the exact price they see on the price tag for any goods or services they buy.

Third Key Message

We need to drastically cut back how much we spend on higher education. Not every job requires a college education, and really the only people who should have to go to college are folks who want to become doctors or lawyers or pursue other jobs that require advanced knowledge in a particular field. Most humanities degrees are worthless and with the money we'd save from cutting back on higher ed spending, we could invest money in early childhood education and/or give a tax cut to the middle class to allow them to pay for trade and vocational schools that are much cheaper and less timely than traditional college.

What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

1) Anti-corruption laws. I'm strongly opposed to corporations and lobbyists buying our politicians and manipulating them to betray their constituents in office and think we need to get money out of politics entirely.
2) Taxes. I'm vehemently against taxes that punish economically beneficial activities and think we need to completely abolish sales and income taxes.
3) Education. I know from firsthand experience that college has gotten too big for its britches and needs to be drastically downsized by losing a huge amount of its funding. We also need to cap tuition and fees that public universities are allowed to charge. It's outrageous what college costs these days and most of this money goes to overpaying professors and other wasteful attractions to make universities more flashy while not helping students get a better education or find good jobs. Student loan debt is a crisis facing the younger generations and needs to be addressed by streamlining the higher education process and implementing cost controls.
4) Healthcare. We need to repeal Obamacare and implement free-market solutions to high healthcare premiums. We should forgive medical debt, give consumers more choice over their health insurance plans, and use Medicaid as a tool to negotiate with drug companies to lower the prices of prescription drugs. We can also use government reinsurance plans to get the insurance companies to cover more expensive patients fully. These solutions will lower premiums and deductibles.

Are you currently the officeholder in this race seeking re-election?
No.

Is this your first time running for office?
Yes.

What is your campaign slogan?
We Demand Better!

Please provide a URL to a webpage listing your endorsements, if one exists.
I am proud to not have been endorsed by any of the establishment organizations or super PACs that want a politician they can buy in office. The only endorsement that matters is that of the voters.

We're giving candidates the opportunity to record a video speaking to Ballotpedia readers. Upload it to YouTube and paste the link below. We'll put it on your profile.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1oFRKtnfas

Who do you look up to? Whose example would you like to follow, and why?
I look up to my older brother, Matthew. He's only 25 years old and has spent the past three years of his life trying to start and grow small businesses in the technology and software industry all by himself. He's extremely intelligent and ambitious and already has a resume that a 50-year-old would covet. He's always been there for me when I needed help - whether that was homework help, relationship advice, or simply a companion to talk to while I was away at college. He understands all the nuances of the world, and particularly of politics, and has helped me think of plenty of great, revolutionary ideas for my campaign that will shake up politics as we know it and change the dynamics of our state's economy for the better. He's just all-around a great person and an amazing judge of character. I trust him with my life, and I'll consult him regularly in office for advice about how to handle the various conflicts that come up when dealing with other politicians and trying to be a good leader for my constituents.

I also look up to my high school English teacher in grades 9 and 10, Melanie Plesh. She was such a unique, thoughtful, emotional, creative and passionate human being who had unconventional methods of teaching that really effected me and my development in high school and I would like to mirror these tactics as an educator myself. She passed away a few years ago, but I'll never forget her voice or her charismatic personality or all the things she taught me and all the emotional support she gave me at a difficult stage in my life. I still share her writing with friends and family so it lives on.

Politically, I love Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. A conservative guy who thinks for himself and won his race without the support of his party's political establishment by talking directly to the voters and offering them new and creative ideas to grow the state. I want to be like him in office.

Every state besides Nebraska has two legislative chambers. What do you consider the most important differences between the legislative chambers in your state?
The House is much easier for bills - both good and bad - to get through. Most of them die in the Senate because procedural rules allow the Senate to delay and filibuster legislation. This can be a positive tool because it blocks harmful legislation from becoming law, but it can also be detrimental to our state because good policy can be held up by a few bad actors in the Senate and end up dead. The Senate is also a place where more authentic debate on the issues can occur because bills take longer to get a vote. This allows for a genuine clash of ideologies that can be healthy for our public discourse and lead to serious amendments being made to bills. In a nutshell, the House is like McDonald's, where as the Senate is like fine dining. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I'm running for the Senate, however, because folks in the House rarely have an opportunity to make much of a difference and usually just use it as a career-hopping point to run for higher office later, which isn't something I want to do since I'm not a career politician. The Senate's where all the action goes on and I want to be on the front lines of policy-making battles and really do everything I can to influence the legislation that gets passed. I can use the rules of the Senate to force votes on meaningful legislation and delay votes on bad stuff that corrupt politicians want to jam through in the dead of night without their voters knowing.

Do you believe that it’s beneficial for state legislators to have previous experience in government or politics?
To some extent, experience is good, but in this day and age, where politicians have been largely corrupted by donors and lobbyists, experience can generally be more of a bad thing that leads them to not listen to the will of their constituents. Career politicians tend to be more focused on building their own profiles and making money off of their positions than listening to the will of their constituents. Most folks I know look for the least experienced candidate in any given race when deciding who to vote for.

What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?
The trial lawyer lobby has a tight hold on our government, as do other lobbies and big corporations. Our main challenge will be overcoming all of this corruption. Some analysts rank Louisiana the second most corrupt state in the country, next to New Jersey, which we all know is a mess after Chris Christie. We're going to have to fight to overcome the big money and get regular people in office who will listen to their constituents and focus on cleaning up our budget, growing our economy, bringing more and better jobs into the state, and improving our disastrous education system.

Our economy is the second biggest challenge. It's frankly an embarrassment, through no fault of our own. It's 100% due to the corrupt politicians who don't listen to us and take bribes from donors and PACs. They've got to go before we can make any meaningful change to improve our state's standing in the country. 

What do you believe is the ideal relationship between the governor and the state legislature?
The governor and the legislature should work together to get legislation passed. Essentially, the governor sets the agenda and the legislature should try to pass what he or she asks for, but the legislature should also interject if the governor is asking for bad ideas. The governor has the power to check the legislature by vetoing bad legislation, and the legislature also has the power to check the governor by investigating corruption, overriding a veto, and changing the governor's powers in the state's constitution if the governor has gotten out of control.

Do you believe it’s beneficial to build relationships with other legislators? Please explain your answer
Yes, I believe it's necessary to build relationships with other legislators because we need their votes to get our agenda passed. That being said, I won't build a relationship that involves corrupt dealings or compromising my values or the agenda I was elected to do. If a legislator is stubborn and tries to block my agenda even after I try to compromise and listen to his or her concerns, I will campaign in his or her district to mobilize the constituents against the legislator and do a recall election if necessary.

If you are not a current legislator, are there certain committees that you would want to be a part of?
I would like to be on the Education, Judiciary, Insurance and Executive committees. The Education committee allows me to push for decreased funding for higher ed and more funding for grades K-8. The Judiciary allows me to push for judges on the courts who will interpret our laws as written rather than legislating from the bench. The Insurance committee allows me to push for my healthcare policy to lower insurance premiums and deductibles by giving consumers more freedom, using Medicaid to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, and instituting government reinsurance plans to convince insurance companies to cover more expensive patients. The Executive committee is where all the general power to set the agenda lies. Therefore, I feel these committees give me the most power to get my agenda passed in the Senate.

If you are a current legislator, what appealed to you about your current committees?
I'm not a current legislator.

If you are not currently a member of your party’s leadership in the legislature, would you be interested in joining the leadership? If so, in what role?
Yes, I want to be Senate President so I can set the agenda.

Is there a particular legislator, past or present, whom you want to model yourself after?
At the state level, there is not. I hear Sharon Hewitt is good, however. I also think Jeff Landry has done a great job as our attorney general. He's a political outsider who defends our values well. I also really like Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Ted Cruz, as they're both political outsiders who are also quite effective at getting good policy ideas passed.

Are you interested in running for a different political office (for example, the U.S. Congress or governor) in the future?
Right now, I just want to focus on fixing Louisiana. If, in the future, I felt that there was a need for me to hold a higher office to fix our state, then I'd run, but at this time I think Trump is doing a fine job handling our nation's economy. We need to focus on Louisiana, and the best place to do that is in the State Senate.

Both sitting legislators and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you've heard that you found particularly touching, memorable, or impactful?
Yes, a young woman (younger than me) has absentee parents who are addicted to drugs and she's working as many jobs as she can to support her siblings so they have clothes and food because her parents aren't doing it. Those are the kind of people we need to help. Regular, hard-working folks who are struggling.

What characteristics or principles are most important for an elected official?
Honesty, integrity, sincerity, and intelligence. It's most important for a leader to just be honest about what they believe in, even if that means disagreeing with the majority opinion, so their constituents can know that they can trust them. Elected officials also need to be 100% beholden to the people - their constituents - not focused on pleasing the donors who got them elected so they can get re-elected in a few years, which all boils down to money in politics and how it distracts elected officials from focusing on the needs of their constituents.

What do you believe are the core responsibilities for someone elected to this office?
The senator needs to always be there for his constituents. That includes being available 24/7 for constituents to text or call him with emergencies, even when the Senate is not in session. Mainly it's about making sure everyone in the district is squared away and doing well in life. Of course, attendance at all legislative sessions, making every vote, trying to fix the state's budget and get good legislation passed while listening to the concerns of the constituents is also what this job is all about. Basically, the senator should be the district's superhero and do whatever it takes to fix everyone's problems and fix the state's problems!

Is there a book, essay, film, or something else you would recommend to someone who wants to understand your political philosophy?
Citizen Kane and All the King's Men. They basically demonstrate how regular people concerned about their government become corrupted by the system and become career politicians. Career politicians aren't bad people, but they are ruined by the system and we have to break it down by getting rid of money's influence on politics.



What is your professional career to date?
Educator

Please list any professional credentials below.
I'm young and just graduated college, but I've worked at Wendy's and Raising Cane's in high school and when I was in college I was a Desk Assistant for Res Life. I was promoted to "Lead" Desk Assistant after only a few months in the position.

What organizations are you affiliated with and how?
I don't support organizations with ties to the establishment and big money donors. I'm an independent person.


I'm honest, caring and intelligent. I have strongly held principles and I'll defend them until the day I die. I'm affectionate with people I care deeply about and I'll do anything for the ones I love.

What legacy would you like to leave?
I'm not really concerned with my own personal legacy. I just want to get money out of politics, reform our tax code, cut higher ed funding, fix our healthcare system, and see our state prosper and our economy grow. Right now, we're last in basically everything, and I want to change that.

I've dealt with depression, especially when I feel like my life is not going in the direction I want it to. However, I have a really good therapist and a really good psychiatrist right now who have helped me to cope with this through a combination of medication and counseling and I'm doing much better than I was in college.

What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
Songs don't get stuck in my head, but right now I'm on Cole Swindell's "Love You Too Late." Cole's a great guy and I really hope his song hits #1 in a few weeks. I think his "big push" is the week after the election, 10/13-10/20.

What is your favorite book? Why?
Flowers for Algernon and Ethan Frome are tied. Flowers for Algernon is just so beautiful with the way Charlie progresses and regresses and I literally cried at the end. Ethan Frome is a book I hated at first due to some repressed feelings about my own life, but a few years later I thought about it and realized it's actually a great book and the characters were right. Just check them both out.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you want to be?
Email is danielducote@gmail.com but danielducoteforsenate11@gmail.com works, too.Batman. He defends his values, even getting into violence to do so. I would've picked Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead, but all that bull shit about not killing Negan turned me off. All the Saviors should've had a trial, been found guilty, and gotten the punishment they deserved. Rick doesn't get to just make decisions for everyone else. They all fought the war, too! It's all the stupid "Carl asked me not to" nonsense that the AMC company did because they couldn't afford to keep paying Chandler Riggs. Again, money gets in the way of telling a good story.


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